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The Dream Continues: A Local Company Is Donating A Food Truck To Tamyra Mensah-Stock’s Mom

By Karen Price | Aug. 25, 2021, 2:14 p.m. (ET)

Tamyra Mensah-Stock poses with her medal after the women's freestyle 68kg wrestling final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 3, 2021 in Tokyo.

 

Tamyra Mensah-Stock’s interview after winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 earlier this month was so memorable that people are probably still going to be talking about it years from now.

After beating Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu in the women’s 68 kg. freestyle wrestling final Mensah-Stock laughed, she cried, she danced and she told the world how much she loved representing the United States. Not long after, the native of Katy, Texas, mentioned that she planned to use a big chunk of her winnings to buy her mother a food truck.

Now, thanks to a San Antonio business that learned about Mensah-Stock and her wish for her mother, Shonda Wells is going to be getting the food truck to end all food trucks. Cruising Kitchens is going to design, build and donate a truck worth $250,000 that will allow Wells to cook and cruise in greater style than Mensah-Stock ever thought possible.

“She is getting hooked up with a truck that I could not even have dreamed of,” Mensah-Stock told TeamUSA.org. “I can barely fathom it. It’s a $250,000 food truck. Like, what can you do with that? I don’t even understand.”

Wells has for many years worked as a certified nursing assistant. It’s demanding work that often requires physically lifting and moving patients and helping them with their daily needs, including dressing and bathing. The work is also tough mentally and emotionally, since many times the patients are older and in failing health.

But Wells always had a passion for cooking, and for the past seven years off-and-on has operated her own barbecue business using a pit she towed behind a truck. Although Houstonians loved it, Mensah-Stock said, Wells struggled to get it going as a full-time venture.

“I could see the success that could come of it, but it wasn’t exactly carried out in the best way,” Mensah-Stock said. “But she wanted it. She wanted it badly.”

Many times, because she didn’t have enough room to store and refrigerate her food, Wells ended up giving it away to the homeless so that it didn’t go to waste. While kind, it wasn’t a great model for financial success.

Tamyra Mensah-Stock competes against Feng Zhou (China) during the women's freestyle 68kg 1/4 final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 2, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.

 

Can you imagine all the money spent and then lost doing that again and again and again for seven years on and off?” said Mensah-Stock, who first told her mom years ago that one day she’d help her get a truck. “I always saw that struggle. Even after I told her I was going to get a food truck for her, she’d say, ‘OK, baby,’ but she’d still do it.” 

The food was always delicious. Mensah-Stock doesn’t eat meat anymore, but she remembers the ribs falling off the bone and the turkey legs being so juicy they’d just melt in your mouth.

“And she makes incredible sides,” she said. “Green beans, mac and cheese — her mac and cheese is the bomb. She cooks it in the oven, not on the stovetop. It’s just delicious.”

With the new decked-out truck, Mensah-Stock said, Wells plans to expand from barbecue and sides to offering food for vegans, pescatarians and vegetarians as well. And Cruising Kitchens isn’t just going to provide the Rolls Royce of food trucks. They’re also going to help Wells with permitting and make sure she has everything she needs to get up and running, Mensah-Stock said.

“She wants to be extremely diverse so she can cater to everyone’s needs,” she said. “That’s her plan.”

While being able to help her mom realize her dream is one of the highlights of post-Tokyo life, there’s been a lot more to make Mensah-Stock smile. 

Getting off the plane in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and seeing her husband and family was a big one, not to mention getting home and seeing her two dogs and even her plants. She’ll get to celebrate her wedding anniversary this coming weekend, and spent this past weekend in Las Vegas, where she and her friends and family were guests of WWE SummerSlam. 

“They gave me a belt!” she said. “Every world championships you get a belt for winning but at the Olympics you don’t get a belt, you get a medal. So at SummerSlam they gave me and (fellow gold medalist) Gable (Steveson) our very own Olympic champion belts. And I wanted to cry. I was so happy and flustered that I was like, I can’t believe they gave me my own freaking belt and it has my name on it. That was one of many awesome things.”

Soon, it’ll be back to business.

Tamyra Mensah-Stock celebrates after her women's 68kg semifinal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 2, 2021 in Tokyo.

 

Mensah-Stock is the reigning world champion, and because of the Tokyo Games postponement from 2020 will have the rare opportunity to become both Olympic and world champion in the same year. The 2021 world championships will take place Oct. 2-10 in Oslo, Norway.

As not only an Olympic champion but also the first Black woman to win a wrestling gold medal for the U.S., Mensah-Stock knows she has the opportunity to influence future generations, and that’s exactly what she hopes to do.

“If they can see me and the rest of my team going out there and being successful while having fun, I feel like we are going to create a culture that crushes the stigma that wrestling has,” she said. “Which is that wrestling’s not fun, it’s brutal, you have to cut weight and you’re all mean and have cauliflower ear.

“They’re going to go, ‘Wow, there’s women like that in wrestling. That’s pretty cool.’ And for guys and girls, to see I can do this sport and it looks like it’s a lot of fun. I feel like it’s going to create more programs, and at Division I colleges specifically because they’re going to be seeing so many high schools creating programs. I feel like it’s only going to go up from here, and I’m extremely excited to see that growth, because I would like to be a DI college coach.”

While there are undoubtedly already wrestlers out there dreaming of being the next Mensah-Stock, Wells’ dream of owning her own food truck will come true in about four or five months thanks to her daughter and Cruising Kitchens.

“To see my mom be able to carry out her dream is something I’ve been striving for in wrestling,” Mensah-Stock said. “It’s not my end-all-be-all goal because I’m trying to create that platform so I can give glory to God and tell people the message I want to give them. But at the same time I want to help my mom meet her dreams and it’s so freaking incredible.”

Karen Price

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Tamyra Mensah-Stock